Defenses Against a Credit Card Fraud Accusation
What Is Credit Card Fraud?
Put simply, credit card fraud occurs when one person illegally uses another’s credit card. Essentially, the crime assumes that the user is pretending to be this other person to make purchases, open new accounts, and so on.
There are two general types of credit card fraud:
- Card-Present Fraud, where someone physically presents and uses the card
- Card-Not-Present Fraud, where someone uses another’s credit card information to make purchases online, over the phone, etc. These days, this is the more common credit fraud crime.
Credit Card Fraud Penalties in Florida
Only One Offense
First-degree misdemeanor; up to 1 year in jail and/or probation; fines up to $1,000.
Third-degree felony; up to 5 years in prison and/or probation; fines up to $5,000.
“Multiple offenses” could include an offender using multiple cards, or it could include the offender using the same card more than once within 6 months.
Even if there was only one offense, these penalties also apply when the fraudulent purchases value at more than $100.
Credit card fraud often involves purchasing goods across state lines. It also can involve using the card in a state where the card owner does not live. Situations like these can elevate the crime to a federal charge, which can have even more server penalties.
Fighting the Charges
In our system, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and that guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Here are some ways to create uncertainty in your case, possibly leading to the preservation of your innocence.
These days, fraudsters are cleverer than ever. They can steal one person’s identity, which is a form of fraud, and then use that stolen identity to commit credit card crimes. If you did not commit an illegal act, you should not be held responsible even when that act occurred under your name.
Believing You Have Use of the Card
Credit card fraud can happen by accident. Perhaps you had access to a corporate card or a family member’s card, and you believed you were authorized to use it. In this case, there was no intent to commit a crime, and you should not face steep consequences for an honest mistake.
Career criminals are a dangerous lot, and they often use others as scapegoats. If a violent individual threatened you or your family, forcing you to commit fraud for them, you were operating under “duress.” This is a legitimate claim in court, and it can help keep you free.
A Lack of Benefit
Credit card fraud assumes that you used a card illegally and for your own benefit. Technically, using another person’s card is still illegal, but the prosecution must prove that you did so only for yourself. Maybe you used your spouse’s card to buy groceries for the family. Since you were not using the card selfishly, it’s possible to have your charges lowered or thrown out altogether.
If you’ve been accused of credit card fraud, contact our office today for help. You can reach out to us online or call us at (561) 475-2752.